If anyone can sympathize with the pressure Kansas basketball phenom Andrew Wiggins is facing, it might be Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
Two years ago, Green-Beckham was the top recruit in the nation. He came to the Tigers amidst over-the-top hype and burdened by unrealistic expectations.
During his freshman season, Green-Beckham caught 28 passes for 395 yards with five touchdowns — numbers he already has surpassed as a sophomore.
Green-Beckham has 33 catches for 479 yards with five touchdowns for No. 9 Missouri despite drawing consistent attention from opposing defenses that limit opportunities to get him the ball.
He caught four touchdowns in the Tigers’ first four games, including the first 100-yard performance of his career Sept. 21 at Indiana, where he caught eight passes for 105 yards.
Green-Beckham averaged more than five receptions and 83 yards per game during nonconference play, but his production has dipped dramatically since Missouri kicked off its Southeastern Conference slate.
He has been held to 35 or fewer yards four times and two or fewer catches three times, averaging barely two receptions and less than 30 yards per game in conference.
For his part, Green-Beckham seems unfazed.
“I’m fine,” he said. “As long as we get the W, I’m OK with it. I’m just going out there and doing my assignment. I’m OK with anything right now. We’re trying to push our goals … and get down to Atlanta. Even if I have one catch, I’m fine with it as long as we get a W.”
Part of the story undoubtedly is senior quarterback James Franklin’s injury and the transition to redshirt freshman Maty Mauk the last three weeks.
While that only explains so much, the Tigers don’t seem overly worried.
“If you look at the number of times we’ve thrown to him or his position, sometimes you’re going to catch more balls than other times,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. “Sometimes we’ve thrown a few and haven’t connected, some long ones. We try to obviously get the ball to everybody. We’ve got a lot of receivers who are playing well. That’s the good news.”